By Alisa Moore
On January 18, 2015, I woke up in the middle of the night. For the first time since their deaths several years ago, I felt the presence of my mom and dad. Although we weren’t close in life, in that moment I felt their love and concern for me so deeply that I burst into tears. I had been under immense, chronic stress due to emotionally damaging relationships with my both my boss and my girlfriend. I’d always enjoyed great working relationships with my bosses and loving partnerships, so I was very confused and depressed, feeling that I was “under attack” both at home and work. I was indulging in counter-productive coping strategies, ignoring my health, and watching my weight climb, thus deepening my sense of helplessness to change the situation.
The next morning, I got in my car and sat in the driveway. Lifting up my arms, I pleaded to God, my angels, and my parents, “I need your help! I’m depressed. I can’t break out of these negative patterns. And I don’t want any stinkin’ butterflies, or dimes, or other things you usually show me! PLEASE show me something big today! I’m in your hands.”
I started driving with nowhere particular in mind. After several hours of meandering, I dead-ended at a beautiful retreat center in the mountains outside of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. Moss dripped from the redwoods, and the sounds of a waterfall soothed my soul.
As I walked around the property, I met a woman who had just completed a retreat there. She explained that the Hoffman Process was a week-long residential retreat, where participants identify and break the unhealthy patterns they developed as a child in reaction to, or in identification with, their parents in order to survive. She said the Hoffman Process breaks us free of these patterns, to improve our relationships and fulfill our highest potential. Although I’ve done plenty of therapy in my life and felt I’d worked through most of my “parent stuff,” my current relationships indicated that I was in need of something more. This was clearly the “Something Big” I had asked for just hours before!
I was so moved by feeling my parents’ concern for me and grateful that my prayer seemed to have been answered, I ended my relationship once and for all that same day. I felt as though I had entered a state of grace, from which my entire life would change for the better. The Hoffman Process was already doing its work on me. From that moment onward, I felt clear and at peace. I’d gained a new-found focus on my relationship with, and love for, myself.
Despite my keen distrust of self-help groups, dogma and organized “anything,” I did my research, concluded that Hoffman wasn’t a cult, and confidently signed up for the very next session in February.
The Hoffman Process exceeded my high expectations. For one, the experience was deeply healing. I released the remainder of the hurt and anger I felt toward my parents. I was able to express the entire range of my emotions, which evolved from anger, hurt and bewilderment, to compassion and forgiveness by week’s end. I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t yet attended – the surprising twists and turns of the Process are what make profound change and growth possible. Let’s just say I’ve never laughed or cried so much. Giving up control, fully committing to the process, trusting the teachers, and embracing my fellow students over the course of the week were imperative to getting the most out of the experience (and my investment).
Following Hoffman, my depression and sense of helplessness immediately lifted and have not returned. The volatile relationship with my girlfriend ended peacefully, once and for all. I finally broke out of our vicious cycles, no longer hooked by her moods or words. I stopped losing sleep over work, and although my boss remains difficult, I don’t react or let her get into my psyche. I’ve made some new friends and had some wonderfully life-affirming experiences. Although we were already close, my relationship with my son deepened and we’ve had some profound conversations. I enjoy phone calls and correspondence with my Hoffman classmates. And much to my surprise, I reunited with a woman I dated four years ago, and with whom I’m enjoying a loving and mutually supportive relationship. She is a blessing in my life, one that I wasn’t ready for back then, but am now. And with my renewed zest for life, I am making plans to travel, change jobs, and write a book describing the impact that Hoffman has had on many of us “graduates.”
I’m now living a life I could only have dreamed of back in January – energized, happy, and truly free. I can’t wait to see what continues to evolve for both myself and my Hoffman friends.
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